Adobe Photoshop Elements 11
Adobe Photoshop Elements 11

Best photo-editing software for most

Experts agree that Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 is what most users should turn to for photo editing and simple design. It's easier to use than Photoshop; its newly redesigned interface makes working with your images easy on the eyes, and at a fraction of the price, it's a lot easier on the wallet.
See our full review

GIMP
GIMP

Free photo-editing software

With sophisticated features and tools, it's truly amazing that GIMP costs you nothing. Most reviewers acknowledge that you will need to spend some time with GIMP to get to know its interface and learn the tricks and nuances, but for tech-savvy students -- or anyone -- on a shoestring budget, it can't be beat.
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Free Estimated Price
Adobe Lightroom 5
Adobe Lightroom 5

Best photo organizer and editor

Adobe Lightroom 5 has evolved from its humble beginnings as a companion to Photoshop. Its prowess as a workflow tool, a RAW file converter and organizer is undisputed, but it has also quietly become a photo-editing powerhouse, reviewers say. For photography purists, it might be an even better choice than Photoshop CS6 and not just because of the much lower price.
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Adobe Creative Suite 6
Adobe Creative Suite 6

Professional photo-editing software

Adobe Photoshop CS6 has long been the industry standard for graphic designers and photographers who need the most advanced image manipulation tools. Based on features alone, reviewers say no other program measures up. The latest version is much speedier and even has basic video-editing capability.
See our full review

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See a side-by-side comparison of key features, product specs, and prices.

Photo-Editing Software Runners Up:

Apple Aperture 3.3 $80

2 picks by top review sites.

Google Picasa Free

1 pick including: PCMag.com, PC Pro…

Corel PaintShop Pro X5 $55

1 pick by top review sites.

Photo-editing software continues to progress

With the abundance of photo-editing software on the market, you shouldn't have to see a picture of a red-eyed kid at a birthday party ever again. Most digital cameras come with their own software, either a proprietary application or a third-party program like Adobe Photoshop Elements. When you buy a new computer, you'll likely find that a photo editor comes standard as part of the package, like Apple's iPhoto, which can hold its own in terms of quick image editing. But to get creative, you'll need software that can go beyond basic touch-ups.

Many people don't realize that excellent photo-editing software, comparable to Photoshop in many ways, can be downloaded for free. Most reviewers cite GIMP as the best free software available, but there are other options like PhotoScape and Google Picasa that might be right for some. GIMP isn't for everyone; it comes with a steep learning curve and not much support.

Moving into the realm of commercial software, Adobe reigns supreme. It produces Photoshop Elements 11 (Est. $100) , which is aimed at casual users; the more sophisticated Photoshop CS6 (Est. $700) , suitable for designers, professionals and serious amateurs; and Lightroom 5 (Est. $150) for photographers who shoot RAW and need to quickly process large collections of images. Corel PaintShop Pro X5 ($55 ) and DxO Optics Pro 8 (Est. $100) do not hold the same sway with experts as Adobe products do.

Adobe has made a big change to its software sales model in 2013. While the company will continue to sell the latest versions of its software, going forward new releases will be available via Adobe Creative Cloud, a subscription service. For a monthly fee (Est. $50), you can access a number of Adobe products, including Photoshop and Lightroom, and you're allotted cloud storage for your files as well. However, once you stop paying, you lose access to all that software and must move your files elsewhere. You can still purchase Adobe Creative Suite 6 for a one-time fee, but the company has no plans to release new versions of that software outside of the Creative Cloud service. Users will have to decide how much they're willing to pay and what kind of access they need.

We turned to sources like ArsTechnica.com, DigitalCameraReview.com, Expert Reviews, PCMag.com and PC Pro to find out what the pros are talking about. Most of these experts have been reviewing software and photo technology for years and are already familiar with older versions of the software they review, providing excellent baseline comparisons. We tally their favorites to come up with our picks, which are truly the top of the heap.

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Adobe Photoshop CS4 - Old Version
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Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 [Old Version]
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Adobe CS6 Design Standard [Old Version]
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Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 [OLD VERSION]
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Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 - Win [Download]
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New: $149.00 $135.85   
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PaintShop Pro X5
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from Amazon.com
New: $79.99 $18.95   
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